World’s Best Countries Seen By Rail

Shinkansen (Bullet Train)- Japan

Last summer Kim, Lucas and I had an amazing time traveling around Japan at a reasonable price due to buying a Rail Pass. While it did seem pricey at first, the speed and efficiency of the rail system allowed us to see lots of different cities around the country in a short period of time. Had we bought each leg seperately, it would have costed way more. Lucas even learned the word train while in Japan!

Other times I’ve used trains to get around include around Belgium, from Paris to Amsterdam, Cairo to Luxor and Toronto to Montreal. (With the massive size of the NYC subway system, I guess this could count too!) While trains can be more comfortable to travel on, over the years, especially around Europe, I’ve always found the inter-city buses to be a cheaper and faster way to get around.

I’ve been talking about taking a trip with Amtrak at some point but don’t really see any good options from the NYC area. I think to take a worthwhile rail journey, we’d have to start out elsewhere. Any suggestions for the future?

While thinking about our time in Japan and the possibility of taking Amtrak in the future, I found an article from BBC Travel (from August 2013)- Which Country Is Best Seen By Rail to be very interesting.

Here are the countries that made the list:

  • India– The largest rail network in the world, amazing scenery & luxury on some lines.
  • Japan– The most reliable trains in the world, we found it easy to get around the country last summer.
  • Switzerland– Came in second to Japan for timeliness & convenience. High praise for the scenery too.
  • South Africa– A favorite for “train-side scenery” and also some luxury options.
  • United States– Great nature scenery will be seen traveling through the Pacific Coast.

Have you taken any big rail journeys through a country? If so, where and would you recommend traveling this way?

Find out more about each of the countries mentioned in the BBC Travel article HERE.

Check out my post about 9 Scenic Train Rides Around the World

One thought on “World’s Best Countries Seen By Rail

  1. 2 of Amtrak’s 3 most scenic trains depart from Chicago – the California Zephyr that runs to San Francisco, and the Empire Builder, which runs to Seattle. The other one to do is the Coast Starlight which runs between LA and Seattle. You can get connecting train service from NY to Chicago pretty easily, or you could always fly to Chicago and save yourself Amtrak Guest rewards points (it would only be a 2 zone instead of 3 zone trip).

    Although not long distance, there are some beautiful scenic trains out in Colorado. I highly recommend the Durango & Silverton, Rio Grande Scenic, and Cumbres & Toltec (have ridden all 3). Western Maryland, Cass Scenic, and Strasburg are 3 that come to mind that are close to you. Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern are both freight railroads that also operate public excusions on some of their scenic portions, sometimes using steam engines. That’s just a sample; there are no shortage of scenic railroads in this country.

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